Texas Housers, an NLIHC state partner, filed a lawsuit in late March against the Texas General Land Office (GLO) seeking access to data on the agency’s disaster recovery short-term housing programs. The Texas GLO has a contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to administer several housing recovery programs following Hurricane Harvey, including the Partial Repair and Essential Power for Sheltering (PREPS) and Direct Assistance for Limited Home Repair (DALHR) programs. Despite repeated requests for data on how funding is being spent or specifics of their agreement with FEMA, the GLO maintains it is unable to share that information. Texas Housers asserts the agency’s lack of transparency is a violation of the Texas Public Information Act. A judge is expected to make a decision about a temporary injunction next week.
Advocacy groups need access to data to hold federal, state, and local agencies accountable during the recovery process. Having access to the GLO’s data would allow advocates to assess the fairness and effectiveness of efforts to date as well as to analyze implications for future recovery efforts. The GLO is responsible for creating a state action plan for using Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding. Texas Housers and other local organizations have done extensive work to ensure these federal funds reach those most in need and to foster the creation of equitable communities post-disaster.